New York has already made great strides on voting rights. These reforms should be next
New York State has entered a brand-new era of progressive governance, following a massive Democratic wave at the ballot box last year that finally ended Republican control over the state Senate and swept Democrats in with their largest majority in over a century. Newly empowered, Democrats have already passed significant new legislation to protect and expand the right to vote, including early voting, same-day voter registration, and campaign finance reform, but there's still much more we can do.
Below are a set of proposals New York lawmakers should consider and enact in order to further enhance voting rights, particularly at a time when they're under attack across the country.Automatically register eligible voters who interact with state agencies, with the opportunity to opt out.
Automatic voter registration is a no-brainer: It has both increased the number of registered voters and boosted turnout in the dozen states where it's been adopted. The good news is that legislators have already started considering such a plan.
New York should include as many state agencies as possible under the purview of any such law. Some automatic registration systems are limited to the department of motor vehicles, but in New York especially, where about a quarter of adults don’t have a driver’s license and therefore have minimal interaction with the DMV, it's important that there be as many opportunities to automatically register as possible.
In addition, the strongest automatic registration systems give voters the chance to opt out after they transact business with state agencies (known as a "back-end" opt-out) by sending them a mailer, rather than at the time they conduct business. New York should adopt such a "back-end" approach.